Blueberries and blackberries are joining the ranks of crops ready to be picked early.
“We have an excellent crop,” said Ples Spradley, associate professor for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture who specializes in pesticide education. He also operates Spradley Farms in Lonoke, where customers can pick their own blueberries. “The berries are two to three weeks earlier than we have ever picked in our 26 years in business.
“We could probably start picking this weekend but will probably wait until the first of June. One of the benefits of an early crop is that we might be able to finish picking before some of the hotter weather in July.”
So far, 2012 has been the season of precocious everything. Chicot County farmers started planting corn in February. The winter wheat harvest is reaching its peak two to three weeks ahead of normal. In mid-April, the state’s strawberry growers were also dealing with a crop that was two to three weeks early and worked hard to get the attention of consumers who weren’t expecting the red fruits until May.
It’s the same story with other fruit growers.
The Wye Mountain Flower & Berry Farm in western Pulaski County, was open for picking during the Memorial Day weekend.
“’We’re looking forward to a good weekend,” said Beth Eggers, owner of Wye Mountain Flower and Berry Farm. “We’ve been picking since the first of May. It’s been incredible.”
Eggers said her farm has four acres of blackberries and raspberries and two acres of blueberries waiting for customers.
“It takes a lot of people to get those picked,” she said.
Both Eggers and Spradley said their farms could use a little rain, even though both operations use irrigation. Eggers said her farm has two wells going, one for the fruits and one for the cut flower operation.
Contact Spradley Farms at (501) 676-5502. Wye Mountain Flower and Berry Farm can be reached at (501) 330-1906.